You’re Going to Get Hacked!

As a new writer, you may not be able to imagine why anyone would want to hack you. After all, you’re a small-fry, a one-person business. But as your fan base grows and you gain more notoriety, you will attract the attention of hackers.

It’s in the news a lot lately. Just over the weekend, tens of thousands of businesses in over a hundred different countries were hit by a large ransomware attack that hit hospitals especially hard. And yesterday hackers “stole” the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie and are holding it for ransom.

In a few years, it might be your books that they’re trying to hold for ransom.

Of course, I’m big enough as an author that I get hit from time to time. In fact, my site was attacked just last week from a computer in Poland, I believe it was. We were able to detect the attempt and block the hacker, but we didn’t do that three years ago, and as a result I had to spend some $20,000 rebuilding my website, and I lost about another $30,000 in business.

I’ve been hacked several times in the past 20 years. I look at it as a part of doing business in the modern age.

As an author, you should have at least one website, and you will have perhaps a few social media accounts. All of them can and will be hacked. There are foreign governments working to hack your sites, organized crime rings, crazed fans, and bored teens with genius IQ’s. You will have problems with them.

So for today’s tip, I want to just make a couple of minor suggestions.

  1. Make sure that with each program that you use, you create your own unique password. Hopefully you’re not stupid enough to use something like “password” as your password, or your own name, or something like that.
  2. Keep your software up to date. Many writers use off-the-shelf software for creating their websites, and that software is a frequent target of hackers just because there are hundreds of thousands who are using it. So they find holes in the program, back doors, and exploit them. Keeping your software up to date on a weekly basis is good protection.
  3. Put your work on an off-site server. I hire a hosting company that uses sophisticated security software to thwart attacks. We can trace attacks to specific computers and block them, but in one case I now refuse to accept communications from computers in an entire country, just because we have so many attack coming from specific regions.
  4. Remember that times change fast in the security world, and hackers are always trying new things. Stay alert. It may be that you need to stop your work and do something new on a minute’s notice. For example, I accidentally opened a file that appeared to be from a friend a few weeks ago and realized that I had opened some malware. I had to go through all of my various programs and change passwords immediately—a process that took a good couple of hours.
  5. Work with security consultants. When you are hosting a site, you will often find that you can increase security by paying for extra filters and whatnot. For me, at least, it’s worth the investment to pay a little extra to thwart hackers.
  6. Remember that social media sites are prime targets. Don’t ever give out passwords to friends or fans. I’ve had a couple of times where fans have tried sabotaging sites, usually because they were mad at some other fan. Try to stay out of their flame wars.


I know that I should probably have thirty pages of more-specific advice here, but this is supposed to be a short article, and, hey, I’ve got books to write!


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